For years now the word gluten has been a daily part of my daily vocabulary. When I first heard it muttered by my doctor six years ago, I imagined it as this long, drawn out and terribly blah-sounding word.


Since I say it so regularly now, I’m a bit immune to the heavy and unappealing sound of it. And now that it’s become a part of our daily vocabulary (pretty much world-wide), the awareness of a gluten allergy and sensitivity has risen, along with the danger of it not being taken seriously, since it’s often perceived as a fad.

Why the fad? Several reasons, really. Celebrities and public figures are claiming it to be a great way to ‘cleanse’ the body, and lose weight. And there’s the  growing popularity of Primal and Paleo diets, which shun gluten for it’s lack of nutritional benefits, and it’s negative effects on the body, regardless of an allergy or sensitivity to it. All of which is true by the way.  And products from soda water to maple syrup labeling themselves as gluten-free. So again, not that I think any of this is bad on it’s own; we’ve created a movement, an awareness of the importance of eating healthy, whole foods and of how key nutrition is to your overall health. But it’s also created a mindset that everyone is going gluten-free because it’s the latest and greatest diet fad. Try it, you’ll lose weight and feel great… which is probably true, but not helpful to those of us who truly suffer from an immune repose when we eat it.

Several years ago, I would talk to a restaurant employee who would take it very seriously, never asking whether it was a personal choice or an allergy. They would usually send the manager over to the table, who would discuss my options with me and educate me on how the kitchen handles food so I was aware of any potential cross-contamination issues. I could then make an educated decision based on what’s best for my health.

Fast forward to today, when ‘gluten-free’ is the rage, and restaurants are handing out gluten-free menus and the staff is often-times unaware of the severity behind the issue. In fact, recently while at a popular local chain here in Austin, I was told they no longer offer a gluten-free menu because they realized that using the same fryer for breaded items, and claiming to be gluten-free, wasn’t OK. If you think about it, some of the breading from the foods fried stays in the fryer, and attaches to the non breaded foods being fried next. So even though the foods they were calling gluten-free weren’t breaded, they were still mingling with plenty of residual breading left behind. Dangerous for those of us who need to only ingest a small amount of gluten to have an allergic reaction.

And by the way, did you know that US law allows for something to be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 20 parts per million (PPM)? That means there may be slight amounts of gluten in the foods you’re eating, and assuming are OK. I was recently talking to someone who was complaining that she went gluten-free, but she’s still having migraines, fatigue, body aches and brain fog and couldn’t figure out why. When I explained that the replacement foods she’s eating are allowed to have trace amounts of gluten in them she was angry. Can’t say that I blame her.

To be clear, I’m grateful for the USDA’s movement to properly address a very serious health condition, and try to help us avoid foods that we’re allergic to, but I do wish they would realize that even the smallest amount of gluten, for some of us, can cause an allergic reaction. There are so many factors at play here, that I typically recommend someone just starting to eliminate gluten avoid replacement foods all together, so they can allow their body to truly heal. Once healed, they may be better able to handle the little bits of gluten from cross contamination or reduced PPM here and there.

I know there’s some confusion on what gluten actually does to the body, and why it seems like this is such a big thing now. I’ve heard it called a “rich person’s disease” and honesty, I get it. It does seem like its everywhere these days.

There’s a lot of talk online about why the rates of allergies have risen so dramatically since we started manipulating our food supply, and why we can’t handle eating foods we’ve eaten for generations. If you want to learn more, simply follow Robin O’brien for what I deem the most non-biased, grass-roots effort to help stop the contamination of our foods and require labelling of GMOs. She helps us understand why we’re suddenly seeing so many more cases of gluten sensitivities and Celiac disease. And by following her I’ve been able to piece together a few key points in my life.

The first is that I was always sick. I never really felt good, and my mom was taking me to doctors as young as 8 to help figure out what was wrong. I had chronic migraines, fatigue, social anxiety, weight fluctuations and more. I also had terrible gastric issues, which they labelled as IBS when I was 10. I now understand issues that my grandmother and great-grandmother had as well. They’re Italian, and so I grew up eating pasta and bread. With every meal. No wonder I was sick all the time. As I grew up, I realized that my friends and family were directly affected by my poor health and weakened immune system. I struggled through my teens and twenties with relationships that were affected by my fatigue and mood swings. And it’s nearly impossible to imagine explaining to a date why you have to spend 20 minutes in the bathroom after you eat. I went on a lot of first dates that were never followed by a second one. Not like I didn’t understand why, but it was definitely frustrating.

Last year I wrote about Jennifer Esposito being fired from CBS’ Blue Bloods. She collapsed due to health complications from Celiac Disease, and was fired. For those of us who have it, we get it. It’s not a fad, it’s not a trend – it’s a serious, life threatening condition that can lead to some pretty heavy things that we’d rather not think about.

Last year, Rachael Ray who is clearly someone who doesn’t worry much about the healthy aspects of her meals, promoted a recipe in her magazine as being gluten-free. Not only was it potentially not gluten-free (she used corn flakes in the recipe, the largest reseller of which is Kellogs, and their main ingredient is malt-flavoring — not gluten-free), but she used this line to address why she was prepping some gluten-free recipes…


When did we all get so picky, she asks? As if having a gluten allergy is something we choose.

So while it’s great to have so much awareness tied into gluten allergies, we have to be even more diligent with our health thanks to the belief that it’s the latest craze. And while I love that some people are using their public voice to raise awareness to our cause, I cringe when I see it being presented as an opportunity to simply replace all your former gluten-full goodies with gluten-free ones.

Here’s one of the bigger culprits of that – Elizabeth Hasselback on the View, sharing her experience with going gluten-free after a Celiac diagnosis. Watch her broadly sweeping her arm across a table filled with some of the many gluten-free products that are on the market. She smiles and chirps her way through the segment declaring how these gluten-free products have made going gluten-free a tasty breeze.


I’m thrilled that Elizabeth Hasselback might be able to indulge in gluten-free cookies, pretzels, cakes and more without a reaction. But myself, and plenty of gluten-sensitive folks that I know,  aren’t so lucky.

And here’s why.

Cross reactive foods – that’s when your body can’t tell the difference between gluten and the most commonly used items in gluten-free foods such as tapioca, quinoa, millet, sorghum, potato and more. We eat them – we react just as if we ate gluten.

Cross Contamination – since many of these products labeled gluten-free are processed on equipment that processes wheat, the chances of cross-contamination are high, making it potentially just as bad for you to eat if you’re allergic/sensitive as an actual gluten-full food.

And let’s not forget that many of the gluten-free products out there are filled with sugar, and are truly no better for us than their gluten-full processed counterparts.

USDA Labelling laws: by law, a product is allowed to have trace amount s of gluten in it, and still be labelled as gluten-free. 20 parts per million, to be exact.

Beauty products – these guys are often times unsafe, having wheat and/or a by-product of gluten in their ingredients. Remember that most of what you put on your body, goes into your body, so the safest bet is to focus on products that are labelled gluten-free. Remember, double check the ingredients as well and watch for the most common hidden ingredients list. 

So the lesson here is buyer beware. Be cautious of a gluten-free label. Get to know your local restaurants. Check with the local Gluten Intolerance Group in your area and find out which restaurants are certified as gluten-free safe. You can also see a list here, though I haven’t updated in a while so it may be missing some of their latest updates.

Be mindful, be careful and be your own advocate. Don’t assume that just because something is labeled gluten-free, that it is. Eat clean, prep your own food as much as possible and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Only then can you truly protect your health.

Be well!



gluten-free products

Living a gluten-free life can be frustrating. Five years ago we had very little choices at the grocery store, and today it feels like we’re overwhelmed with options. And none of these options are cheap, so how do you avoid blowing your weekly budget on overly sugary, or bad tasting versions of the gluten-full counterparts that you once loved?

Read labels before you buy

Gluten-intolerance or not, it’s important to understand how to read the product labels and ingredient lists on the foods you buy. If you don’t see “gluten-free” clearly written on the item you’re looking to buy, either call the manufacturer’s customer service line to get clarification or avoid the item all together. Knowing how to read the list of ingredients is also very important when you have any type of intolerance. If there’s a specific type of ingredient you’re unsure of, do the research so you know if it’s something that could harm you or not.

Check your pantry

Gluten can hide in some of your favorite food-staples, which is why it’s important to do a sweep of all of the items in your fridge and pantry to make sure you eliminate those you can’t have. Be prepared to have to let go of soy sauce, malt, and anything containing maltodextrin, a food additive which often contains gluten.

Avoid processed foods

Unless otherwise labeled, most processed food products will contain additives with gluten. Processed foods can be harmful to your body given the unnatural ingredients they contain, so if you’re looking out for your health, aside from being gluten-free, eliminating processed foods from your diet can make a huge difference.

Search for gluten-free restaurants

Believe it or not, restaurants have transitioned over well to appease those with a gluten-intolerance, adding multiple menu options as simple as gluten free pasta to as complicated as adding an entire menu section specifically for those eating gluten-free. Surprisingly, there are several mainstream chain restaurants, such as PF Chang’s and Outback Steakhouse that now offer gluten free menu items to help accommodate patrons with food allergies. You can check out our list of gluten-free chains here.

Order online

If your local grocery store doesn’t have the gluten-free items you’re looking for or need, don’t sweat it. Many stores actually stock their online based stores with anything from gluten-free sauces, pasta, cookies, pizzas and snacks to provide those with a gluten-intolerance an easy shopping experience. Another option we love is Vitacost. We buy organic, gluten-free and minimally processed foods here, and with free shipping over $49 it’s a great away to stock up on the essentials. Plus they offer $10 off an order over $30 if you use the link here.

Watch your calories

A big misconception a lot of people have with a gluten-free lifestyle is that it helps you lose weight because there are fewer calories in gluten-free foods. in fact, many of these gluten-free options are higher in sugar and calories, so be careful to read the nutrition labels before you load up on crackers, cookies and other processed gltuen-free foods. Having options are great, but just keep in mind that other than omitting gluten, these guys are still packed with calories, sugar and fat like their gluten-ful counterparts. To truly make this a healthy lifestyle, shun as many pf the processed foods as you can, and stick to a diet of more naturally occurring foods, like fresh fruits and veggies, meats, fish, nuts and seeds.

If you simply can’t do without your favorite products and want to know what foods to eat, check out our product reviews here.

Start the new year off right!

For those of you who aren’t aware, we launched our gluten-free samples program, Happybelly Box last year, and we’re excited to offer you a chance to win a free sample box packed with our delicious, favorite gluten and dairy free snacks! These treats are perfect for your backpack or lunchbox and we keep them on hand at all times to make sure we have a safe and healthy treat option when hunger pangs hit! 


How do you enter for your chance to win a FREE Happybelly Box?

Simply head on over to our site, Happybellybox and register for your chance to win.

Whether you’re news to the gluten-free lifestyle or consider yourself a pro, our snacks are sure to please! They’re hand-picked to include our favorite snack foods and are often vegan, Paleo and are always packed with super-foods, nutrient-rich goodness.

Good luck!




Most of the time being gluten-free is relatively easy for me. I’ve been GF for almost 5 years now, and cut out my gluten cross-reactive foods more than 4 years ago, so I’d say I’m pretty good at navigating a safe gluten-free course every day. But since I’m a girl who likes to eat out, and am raising a gluten-free son who enjoys all the amazing foods Austin has to offer, I find myself eating out quite a bit.

One day while at dinner I was a little taken aback by what the waiter said when I asked about safe gluten-free  options, so I started keeping a mental checklist of the really interesting comments I’ve heard. Since it’s a mental checklist these are a bit paraphrased, but you’ll get the idea. And for the record, I am super grateful for all the options we have when eating out and am not making fun of the effort anyone puts forth in providing us options (just trying to make light of a massive lifestyle change). So there, my disclaimer is out of the way, and on to my fave comments.

Top interesting comments I’ve heard about being gluten-free: 

1. Aren’t you worried that you’re missing out on all the nutrients that pasta and bread give you?

2. Aren’t you tired all the time from not eating carbs?

3. What do you EAT??

4. You know that it’s not normal for your body to be allergic to food right? I mean, it’s nourishment.

5. Yes, we have a gluten-freeish menu, but we’re not a gluten-free kitchen so if you’re going to die from a little crumbs I wouldn’t eat here.

6. No, we can’t help you. We offer nothing gluten-free. This place is packed with gluten.

7. Glutard.


Yep, life is much more interesting when living it gluten-free.

What are some of your favorite stories about being gluten-free?


A big thanks to the team at Healthline for sharing this article with our readers! They share our belief in the dangers of food allergies, and are urging readers to take food allergies and sensitivities seriously. We couldn’t agree more, and appreciate their taking the time to help spread the word so we can live healthier lives with a greater awareness and more tolerance thanks to the benefit of food allergy awareness.

What are Food Allergies?

A reaction in the immune system that occurs after eating a certain food is defined as a food allergy. Ignoring food allergies is not going to make them go away and could be endangering your life. Even a small amount of the food that triggers the allergy can cause symptoms and signs to occur such as:

  • Swollen airways
  • Hives
  • Digestive issues
  • Anaphylaxis    kidswithfoodallergies

Dangers of Food Allergies

As many as eight percent of children below the age of five and up to four percent of adults are thought to be affected by allergies to food; there is no cure but some children outgrow such allergies. It is easy to confuse an allergy to a food with intolerance to a food. Intolerance is not as severe and does not include the immune system.

The most common symptoms of having a food allergy are:

  • Eczema, itching or hives
  • Itching or tingling in the mouth
  • Swelling of body parts including tongue, face, lips and throat
  • Fainting, feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Pain in the abdomen, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing, wheezing or congestion

Food Allergies Have Deadly Potential

There are those that have more severe and life threatening reactions to allergies from food. This reaction is known as anaphylaxis and could be deadly which makes it important that food allergies are not ignored. Symptoms of this life threatening reaction include:

  • Increase in pulse rate
  • Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or losing consciousness
  • Severe drop in blood pressure that accompanies shock
  • Difficulty breathing because of a lump sensation or swelling in the throat
  • Airways tighten or constrict

Coma or even death can result when emergency treatment is not received for anaphylaxis.

Exercise and Food Allergies

There are those who can have a food allergy that exercise triggers. There are certain foods that will cause you to have a reaction shortly after you begin exercising. The reactions can vary:

  • Itching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis

Pollen-food Allergy Syndrome

An allergic reaction resulting itching or tingling in the mouth can result from some nuts, vegetables and fresh fruits in those that have hay fever. Throat swelling or anaphylaxis can result from the oral allergy syndrome. The protein in the pollens that cause the allergy is similar to the fruit protein, which causes the reaction.

Symptoms that appear shortly after you have eaten means that you should go see an allergist or a doctor. It will be easier to get a diagnosis if you can make the visit during the reaction.

Emergency treatment is necessary if you have any of the symptoms associated with anaphylaxis.

Allergic Reaction Causes:

  • Food or substance mistakenly identified as harmful by the immune system
  • Immunoglobulin E antibodies are released to fight the allergen
  • Histamine and chemicals are released when the food is eaten again

The chemicals will result in the symptoms of the allergy and cause allergic responses. The responses include dry throat, hives, rashes, diarrhea, labored breathing, dripping nose or anaphylactic shock.

This means that it is critical that you do not continue eating foods that result in food allergies. It could save your life if you treat them instead of ignoring them.


About our author: Tammy Mahan has 20 years of experience in the healthcare field. She is also a freelance writer and often shares her knowledge on .





As someone who is often a victim of gluten cross contamination, or having gluten sneak into something I was told was gluten-free, I can vouch for how miserable that can make the next few days of your life. So read on to learn more about how you can better prepare yourself so that restaurant outings are fun and delicious, rather than leaving you hanging out in the bathroom.

One of the more potentially dangerous places to find gluten lurking is in a restaurant kitchen, which is true primarily for 2 reasons. First, there is a level of ignorance around which products are safe for gluten-sensitive folks, and second, because great care with food handling has to occur to reduce the risk of cross contamination in any kitchen.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 9.07.42 AM


When we first learned that I have a gluten sensitivity and would have to eliminate gluten from my diet, we didn’t quite realize the full impact this would have on our lives. Truthfully, your first thought is that it’s just a few dietary changes. But once you start thinking about the obvious gluten containing foods to cut out, you realize that your life will change dramatically just based on those foods. Then you learn that gluten is also hidden in sauces, condiments, hair and skin products, makeup and more, and reality slowly sinks in that truly being gluten-free means much more than just eliminating pasta, bread and all the other more obvious gluten sources.

By the time we learned our son has inherited the gluten sensitive genes and was also showing signs of a gluten intolerance, we were well on our way to realizing the changes we would have to make to keep our home safe.

From separate utensils to skillets, so long as my husband was still eating gluten-ful items in the kitchen, we needed to keep the items he used to make those foods separate to make sure our son and I weren’t at risk of cross contamination.

Cross contamination is the reason many gluten-sensitive folks also avoid fried foods that are made in a fryer that is also used to fry foods with batter. The batter comes off in the oil, leaving traces of breading in the fryer, which can then attach to your seemingly safe french fries.

Here are some of the precautions we take at restaurants to stay safe:

1. Avoid anything fried in a fryer that also houses breaded (or other gluten-ful items)
2. Ask for a clean prep area so you can avoid cross contamination from breadcrumbs on a cutting board, counter or with utensils used to prep gluten-ful ingredients.
3. Skip the sauces and marinades if the kitchen is unsure about the ingredients
4. As for the grill to be wiped down if possible to avoid cross contamination from gluten remains that are also prepped on the same grill
5. When in doubt, opt for a salad with grilled fish or meat and oil & vinegar (salad dressings often have soy sauce or if it’s a pre mixed marinade it contain wheat or gluten as well)

And some good ideas to keep in mind to stay safe at home are to buy two versions of foods that tend to be used to spread on breads or crackers. This way you can keep one version that only knives used for gluten-free breads and crackers is dipped into. Trust me, as much as you’d like to think you’ll avoid the double dip spread technique, you’re going to double dip the knife every time. So stay safe and get two jars of jelly, peanut butter and anything else that you tend to dip and spread.

For those of you who are living in a mixed household, follow these tips from the Gluten Intolerance Group for living GF in a non-gluten-free (NGF) household.

kitchen hardware:  Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 10.20.51 AM

Cutting boards (plastic or wood).
Due to cuts and grooves that can develop in these items, it’s best to get new ones to designate for GF use only.

Baking sheets and pans.
Baking sheets and pans often develop cuts and grooves. For baking sheets,
one option is to use parchment paper with existing pans when baking GF cookies. To simplify matters and to ensure safety, consider having separate GF designated baking sheets and pans for all GF baking.

Non-stick pots and pans
If there are any cuts or scratches in the surface of an item, it needs replacing.

Stay clean.
Start by giving the kitchen a thorough cleaning. Pull everything out of the fridge, cupboards, cabinets, and drawers and wash things down with warm soapy water.

In a NGF household, you’ll have to do this regularly.

Organize and Segregate.
Create designated shelves, drawers, and cupboards specifically for GF foods and for NGF foods. If they’re sharing pantry space, place GF foods inside sealable containers and put them above the gluten-containing items.

Dedicate kitchen hardware.
Get duplicates of all kitchen tools that could harbor gluten. Mark all GF items in red.


If you’ve ever toasted gluten-containing products in it, get yourself a new one and mark it clearly. (For toaster ovens, see if you can purchase another rack for it.)

Colanders, strainers, and flour sifters.
Since pastas and gluten often get stuck in the small holes and slits, cleaning them fully is problematic if not impossible. Have separate items for GF foods. Wooden utensils, boards, rolling pins – porous items can harbor gluten.

Here are some resources we like to help keep items clearly labeled:

Gluten-free stickers (you can check out these from for some oven and dishwasher safe tags as well as handy little stickers to use on foods such as peanut butter jars, jellies, etc so you know which ones won’t have a gluten-ful knife dipped in it.

How do you keep your kitchen (and life) gluten-free and safe? I’d love to hear some of your tips in the comments below!

Here are 5 Steps for starting a gluten-free life from our friends at GIG, the Gluten Intolerance Group. They are an AMAZING resource for those of us living without gluten, so head over to their site for more helpful info. They’ve also supplied us with a list of GIG approved/gluten-free certified restaurants across the US, which are those which meet their strict standards for handling and prepping gluten-free foods to ensure a minimized risk of gluten cross contamination.
1. Omit obvious gluten-containing foods from your diet, such as cereals, breads, and pasta.
Try eggs, cream of rice, or fruit for breakfast. Substitute rice cakes, rice, potatoes, or corn tortillas for breads and pastas.
Have sherbet or fruit for dessert.
Use vinegar and oil on salads instead of pre-made, bottled dressings. Drink milk, 100 percent fruit juice, coffee, or teas.
2. Read food labels for less-obvious sources of gluten and learn what to watch out for.
Avoid anything you think is suspect.
Be patient as you learn the terminology and look at food and food preparation in a new way. To remain positive and focused, stay
connected with someone at a local GIG support group.
3. Try calling or writing to a food manufacturer.
In doing this, make sure you use the proper terms and be very specific in what you are asking.
4. Look at products you may have never thought of as containing gluten: medicines, chewing gum, and toothpaste.
Consider cross-contamination issues such as sharing toasters and foods like mayonnaise, margarine, and jam that may get contaminated through use.
5.  Explore new foods that are naturally gluten-free.
There are many gluten-free grains you may not have tried before, like sorghum, quinoa, teff, and buckwheat.
Often when some doors close, others open. Look at your gluten-free diet as an opportunity to discover new healthy foods and exotic cuisines.

And remember, diligence is key to your health! Read labels, and be weary of those which claim to be Gluten-free, but state that they’re made on equipment which also processes wheat and gluten-containing products. You can read more about that in a recent post here.

This is a chance for you to take control of your health and feel better than you probably ever have in your life so far. Follow these steps closely, and try to skip processed foods as much as possible. Keep your gluten-free snacks to a minimum and focus on the basics: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, fish and meats and start exploring the many wonderful recipes online. We have some here, and there are plenty more to discover along your new gluten-free journey.

Today I ran across an article on a retailer roundtable site that I follow so I can keep up with the trends on gluten0free labels, products, what consumers are interested in,  etc so that we can be on the lookout for products to stock in our online shop. And while I don’t always agree with what’s trending, this particular article resonated with me. It was called Retailer Roundtable: What standards do you look for in gluten-free products? gluten free logo

Now this definitely piques my interest; I’ve written many times about the dangers of relying on gluten-free labels, and I’m a big advocate for making sure you all know to read every label, regardless of whether it says it’s gluten free. Even to the point of being weary of those stating they are Certified Gluten-free due to the risk of cross contamination if the equipment used is also used for gluten-containing products. Imagine your certified gluten-free crackers running across a conveyor belt that was just processing a stack of Cheezits for example. It’s safe to imagine that some of those buttery, cheesy crackers have flaked off leaving an ever so slight trail of gluten in it’s path. And then your gluten0free crackers come along, making their way down that same belt headed for their own packaging, potentially taking some of those gluten flakes with them.

Get the idea?

I’ve been avoiding products that state they were made on equipment which also processes gluten-ful foods, just in case. The big question will be whether gluten still shows up in my blood work since avoiding cross contamination foods. I’ve been gluten-free for 5 years now, and so diligent about my food choices, yet gluten is still showing up in my lab work which made me wonder about the risk of cords contamination, so I decided to be one of those folks who goes the extra mile to make sure I’m safe.

So I was definitely excited when I saw these comments on a site I follow and realized that there is a growing trend of awareness to the importance of being super diligent about label reading to make sure those of us with a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease are safe.  It’s quite simple really; we eat gluten, we get sick, we feel like crap for days, hovering near the bathroom, head pounding, foggy brain, missed days of work, school, etc. Or worse, you end up in the hospital. Quite simply, it’s worth making sure you’re safe.

Here are just a few of the quotes from the article I’ve mentioned, and you can read the full post here.

A gluten-free certification is the first thing we look for, but even that isn’t a 100 percent guarantee that a product is gluten free. Now where we’re getting sucker punched are products that have the GF seal but the fine print says ‘made on equipment that processes wheat.’ We encourage our customers with hypersensitivities to be vigilant about reading labels.

-Clint Pederson, co-owner of Jake’s Gluten Free Market in Boise, Idaho

I think too many people are on gluten-free diets because they think they are eating very healthfully, although that isn’t always the case. The term gluten free is stamped on so many products today, and it simply helps brands market products. I stock what my customers ask for, but if I have the choice, I look for natural, raw and low-sugar gluten-free foods.

-Karri Short, owner and manager of Natural Planet in Kingman, Ariz.

We couldn’t agree more with Karri. In fact, if you’re looking for raw, vegan, gluten free, paleo and healthy food options you can head over to our online shop to browse our favorites!



John Pinette is an actor and comedian who seems to be on an effort to clean up his diet, and was apparently diagnosed as wheat sensitive. He has some hilarious clips about his journey along this path, poking fun at vegans in a clip about buying 10 pound bags of almonds to make a vegan burger, but the one below cracks me up since I live this life every day.

John makes light of the fact that he was told by Doctors to avoid wheat and gluten, and when he checks out the list of what gluten is found in, he seems to think its nearly impossible to manage.

“Do you eat a lot of gluten? I don’t know what gluten is, but I would say Yes. I’m fairly certain I’m mostly gluten.” He continues on –  “Do you know what has gluten in it? Everything! Check again, maybe it’s just Cancer – how am I going to live?”

John Pinette: Still Hungry “Gluten” Clip

Yes John, it’s a challenging life to live, but thanks to so many amazing efforts by people to produce safe products, raise awareness and help us live safe lives, it’s absolutely manageable. Not only is it manageable, but it’s the only way I would choose to live! We’re happily gluten-free, and raising a healthy, active and loving gluten-free child.

Life is good, even when gluten-free. I might even say it’s good because we’re gluten-free 🙂

Guest writer, Elissa Garr, talks about getting back to basics and healing our society through conscious efforts related to food and lifestyle choices.

I have always considered myself educated.  I have been learning since I was a baby and have never stopped.  I am by trade a teacher and counselor.  I have always been extremely observant to the actions, words, and deeds of others and the motivations behind them.

Like many, I have started to notice a terrifying trend; the vast obesity of Americans.  Not just the obesity of adults but the obesity of children, the children I teach every day.

If you are a member of this blog, you are not a stranger to the dangers of wheat, sugars, processed and man-made foods.  My questions is……..


The information is out there, yet people blatantly ignore it.  I have searched for research that supports the healthy benefits of wheat, I can find very few and it is obvious that the risks out weigh the benefits.  Yet people still continue to gorge themselves with numerous servings of wheat daily. Our own government boasts at the benefits and daily recommendations of whole wheat and in the same breath conduct dangerous genetically modifying experiments and we the people are it’s test subjects. People see the negative effects of these ‘foods’ and yet fail to blame them or accept responsibly for their choices.









This is a guest post from our Organic Food Insider, Leslie. Here she shares a very touching, real story of what it’s like to have Celiac disease, how she discovered it, and what her journey entails. 


I feel like I tell my story all of the time. I had stomach aches. I couldn’t figure them out. Doctor’s told me I had IBS. I read about gluten in a magazine. I cut it out. My life changed forever. Is it really this simple? No. But this is how simple my story has become when I share it with the masses. I’ve never gotten more personal than I will right now, but let’s begin.

I played soccer growing up. It was my passion, my addiction and all I ever wanted to do was play pro and be Mia Hamm. Yet, my long days of playing were always interrupted by stomach aches. I once ran 2 miles off the soccer field, during a game, just to use the restroom at my own house. I couldn’t breathe, my stomach was so wrecked. This is one of the first instances I remember of my life being interrupted by stomach problems.

Most of my memories are shameful bathroom excursions into the back of my grandmother’s house. We’d eat pasta dinners every Sunday and I’d always feel horrible afterwards. I’d sneak to the far bathroom and rock back in forth, in tears, as I silently tried to use the restroom. 30 minutes later I’d walk out, hoping no one noticed my long absence from the family gatherings. These were so frequent that they became normal. At least three times a week, I had bouts of stomach aches like that one.

The most embarrassing times were in high school, when my first boyfriend didn’t understand why I always spent hours in the bathroom. We’d eat donuts in the morning on the way to school and I’d spend first period crying my eyes out in one of the stalls, unable to function until I emerged. The memories of sitting in the journalism classroom, immediately feeling uncomfortable and having to rush out, are still so vivid. There’s something so alienating about having to quietly leave the room and go to the bathroom. It’s as though your life is being put on hold – you’re disappearing from reality.

The alienation became worse when I entered college. I met some new friends… who happened to be stupid friends… and we’d drink constantly on the weekends. Beer wouldn’t immediately get my stomach in a knot, it was only the aftermath which left me helpless. The morning after a party I’d be unable to move out of my bed. I’d make it to the bathroom only in helpless instances. I was told that it must be a bad case of  a “hang-over”, even going so far as to think I had a bout of alcohol poisoning. Yet, it was worth it at that time to be able to drink and be accepted rather than stop and spend my nights at home in my dorm. After a bad experience one night out with friends, I finally woke up and realized that this wasn’t who I was…. but by this time my stomach issues had gone way beyond the gut.

There are many studies that have come out which point to women with undiagnosed Celiac Disease experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety. After reading these studies, I have no doubt that the constant depression I experienced in my life was a direct result of the high consumption of gluten throughout my entire life. The gut is so permeable that everything we put into it directly affects the rest of our bodies. There were days where I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed just because I didn’t feel life was worth anything. There were also days when I was so overcome by anxiety that I’d just eat anything in sight until I couldn’t fit anything else into my stomach. This continued into my Sophomore year, even after I’d cut back on drinking and junk food. I thought cutting out crap was enough – but it wasn’t! I traveled to Belgium in the summer of 2009 hoping the alone time and European tour would bring me enlightenment. Of course, the Belgian diet of cheese, bread and beer did nothing to help my cause. My anxiety worsened and I remember days where I ate at least 5,000 calories and still didn’t feel satisfied.

When I returned to the US, I transferred schools and immediately sought help. The first doctor I saw put me on a high dose of anti-depressants, which killed my appetite. The combination of every food hurting my stomach and my own anxiety issues made every aspect of my day revolve around food. I was obsessive and succumbed to the eating disorders that so many 20-year-old women can’t escape. This complicated many issues, as the nutritionist I saw who “just wanted me to eat a snickers bar” tried to tell me that eating chips and cookies wasn’t a bad thing, it was me that had the issues all in my head. I told her that everything I ate caused me stomach pain and that there were weeks at a time when I’d become so dehydrated and sick that I couldn’t eat anything at all. I’d vomit at least three times a day during those weeks, which many doctors labeled “Gastroenteritis.”

I finally began to read about the connection between food and the body. I was convinced that my mental issues weren’t caused by some chemical imbalance and that what was going on was not just a correlation between neurotransmitters and the brain. I remember picking up a magazine of my sister’s and reading a 30 word segment in the middle of the page – it described something called gluten-intolerance and how it’s a rare issue that is never diagnosed. That day I cut out gluten. Two weeks later I tried to tell my nutritionist that I hadn’t had a stomach ache all week! She told me that it was just me believing that the gluten had helped and it wasn’t truly an issue, but still wrote down some gluten-free options for me. (As I look back now, this woman was a damn idiot with her suggestions of potato bread and potato chips as options for a gluten-free diet. How the hell does she even have her degree!?!)

A few weeks later, I went and saw a GI doctor. They ran tests and gave me heartburn medication because I’d been off gluten for two weeks and didn’t show positive blood work for Celiac. I let them do an invasive procedure, and it showed what I’d read to be true – my Celiac was so severe and had gone undiagnosed for so long that my stomach lining was in horrible shape.

From that point on, my life didn’t get any easier. I was still struggling with anxiety and depression and had no guidance on how to go about eating gluten-free on a college campus. I didn’t know that gluten hides in certain sauces and foods. It’s in gum! It’s in salad dressings! It’s EVERYWHERE! I went stomach pain-free most of the time, but every so often I’d have an issue where I’d feel horrible. I’d back track to where I had eaten and I’d realized that I could have had cross-contamination or I’d actually eaten gluten without knowing.

Eating gluten-free on a college campus was the worst. I’d pack my lunch as much as possible, but many days I’d go for so long and only have an apple or some hummus or a LaraBar. Those were my staples. Over time, I was able to find other options – like when I walked into my gym one day and there were these really colorful bars sitting at the cafe. I had seen them being promoted around town and so I tried one. It was amazing and I would carry them with me on campus all of the time – eating at least 2 a day. I continued to try other energy bars, but these were the only ones that didn’t leave me with a headache or a stomach ache.

I appreciated the ingredient label and began to look more into all of the claims on the packaging. I didn’t know that soy-free was a good thing and I didn’t even know what agave syrup was! So I began to educate myself.

I discovered that more foods than gluten affected my body. I cut out soy and all dairy and any stomach cramps or slight issues that remained began to cease!! Who knew that you could have so many adverse reactions to foods? The more I read, the more I realized that eating REAL food, that isn’t processed, was the number one choice for me.

I began to cook all of my own meals, using raw food cookbooks for innovative ideas! As I became more of a real foodist, I regretted the times where I’d slip. As the gluten-free movement came under way, more options became available to me and it became easier to slip into a processed-yet-gluten-free-frenzy!

Eventually, I found my into working for a company that stands for everything that I believe in. While there can be a lot of drama over the true meaning of “natural” in the natural foods industry, it is a comforting place to work. Last week, I attended a Natural Products Expo, where companies were overjoyed to tout their labels of “gluten-free” and “dairy-free” and “nothing added.” No one asked me why I needed my food to be that way and every person was more than accommodating. Furthermore, it is blissful to be able to sit around a dinner table in the comfort of your bosses and co-workers and friends and enjoy a gluten-free meal of sweet potatoes and humanely-raised animals and deliciously-cooked veggies. There isn’t a moment in the past two-weeks where I’ve had to ask if any meal prepared for me was going to make me sick, and that’s a comfort that I’ve longed for since my diagnosis almost three years ago. For anyone who is currently struggling with the beginning stages of stomach issues or is in the middle and feels alienated by their choices, please reach out to someone whose been there. It’s not worth going in alone. I myself enjoy the comfort of the natural foods industry, but I believe that you can find understanding people everywhere.


We’re grateful to Leslie for sharing her story, so please share your comments below and let us know of your own journey.  And remember: be cautious, and be your own health advocate. Only you know your body, and what you’re feeling, and it’s truly up to you to help discover the root of poor health.